LAMPASAS — Fun activities sprout in Lampasas this weekend with the 12th Annual Bloomin’ Fest celebration and the Sulphur Creek “Iron Chef” Chuck Wagon Cooking Challenge.

Bloomin’ Fest, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the courthouse square, features more than 100 arts and crafts booths, a children’s area with pint-sized crafts and activities, live music, festival food and plant vendors.

“Representatives from three different nurseries will be on hand to help festival-goers with anything from selling popular springtime plants to offering landscaping advice to getting your yard in shape,” said Alicia Menard, Lampasas Chamber of Commerce administrative assistant. “Above all, the focus of the event is celebrating spring, and there will something for everyone out there.”

In conjunction with the Bloomin’ Fest, the Lampasas Association for the Arts is sponsoring the chuck wagon cook-off today and Saturday in Campbell Park, one block off the courthouse square.

Now in its fourth year, the competition starts today when the wagons roll in. Visitors are welcome to stop by until 6 p.m. to learn more about life on the frontier.

On Saturday, the cooking starts at 6 a.m. Meal tickets are available for $10 each at the Lampasas Chamber of Commerce or on site until the dinner bell rings at noon Saturday. Competitors cook enough food for about 300 people, and meal ticket holders are welcome to sample any and all food available at each wagon.

“We work hard to keep with the authenticity of the way food was cooked back on the frontier, and we have six wagons participating this year,” said Sandra Julian, cooking challenge co-founder. “The cooks are culinary experts, and they have to cook with the same method and flavors that would have been prepared in the 1800s.”

Julian said 15 judges will size up each competitor, and organizers strictly govern the ingredients dispensed to each chuck wagon. Cooks are scored on appearance, taste and authenticity.

“The wagons and camps are judged on Friday, which consists of 50 percent of the overall score, and once it’s time to eat on Saturday, the taste of the food is the remaining 50 percent,” Julian said. “They have to get pretty creative with what they’re given, which consists of beef, pork and goat, but they can cook it any way they want.”

For more information about Bloomin’ Fest and the chuck wagon cook-off, call (512) 556-5172.

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